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Production of Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator Disrupted Over Quality Issues

Ford is experiencing difficulties with production of the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator, according to a report by the Detroit Free Press.

Some units of the two SUV models, both of which have been redesigned for the new year, have been getting shipped from Ford’s Chicago plant to its facility near Detroit to fix certain complex issues linked to production. The company is downplaying the report, meanwhile:

"Making updates to preproduction models based on all-new platforms as they roll off the assembly line - is standard industry practice."

- Ford spokesperson
This is true of course, as adjustments are often necessary when beginning production of a new generation of products. In this case, however, some dealerships are expressing frustration as they have customers who have made deposits and are still waiting for their vehicle. It appears that Ford will be able to deliver some models after they leave the company’s plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, but the flow will be limited

2020 Ford Explorer
Photo: B.Charette
2020 Ford Explorer

Anonymous sources said that the production teams are grappling with transmission issues. The problems include difficulty with placing the transmission in Park, and with activating the parking brake. Among the other irregularities noted, the climate control system is not supplying enough cold air, and the auto-leveling air suspension system of the Aviator doesn’t always function.

Ford has brought in workers, some from as far away as the company’s plant in Kentucky, to help out at the Flat Rock factory, but even so only about 100 vehicles are being processed per work shift. The backlog of vehicles awaiting the fixes is said to be 12,000 vehicles. Meanwhile, dealers wait.

It’s early yet for anyone to push the panic button. But the company will have to find a way to clear the backlog in the coming weeks and months.